So you've heard of Fauresmith and of Walvis Bay or the African Champs and about some 1000km ride that is held yearly somewhere in South Africa, but not sure what all of this is really about. Well, let's get into it...
30, 40, 60, 80 and even 120km is fun, every course is different, each ride remains a challenge but to some extent boredom of repetition kicks in, so how about taking it up a notch, setting even higher goals and working towards achieving them! Yes, I respect you for conditioning your horse to successfully complete these distances, even more so, beating your own record year after year, but before stating that endurance riding becomes boring, have a look at what the world of endurance has to offer you.
Here are a list of world-renowned rides that mostly currently remain unchecked on my bucket list:
A back-to-back 80km endurance ride
Many rides offer a Friday 80km followed by a Saturday 80km course which you can partake in either with two different horses or the same horse on both days. A great idea to enter a b2b 80km ride as preparation for Fauresmith. Having to saddle up the second day after a day of hard work and long hours under and in the saddle would give you a clear indication of your horse's mental state in terms of a multi-day ride. Scrolling through the 2017 ERASA ride calendar, I spotted many opportunities this year to check a b2b 80km challenge on your bucket list.
A back-to-back 120km endurance ride
80km b2b done and dusted, so next up would be to attempt a b2b 120km ride - not necessarily on the same horse, either way, it remains a challenge! Again, a challenge that could easily be fulfilled with various opportunities during 2017. Have a look on https://erasa.co.za/files/RIDE%20CALENDAR%202017%20V45(1).pdf to see the dates and venues of b2b 120km tracks hosted in 2017.
A 160km endurance ride
One-hundred-and-sixty kilometers on horseback.............. Sounds almost impossible. Its not! We see riders and horses doing it time after time and no one does things repeatedly that is awful and horrible. No, completing a 160km ride is what I call ENDURANCE. Can you imagine the satisfaction after successfully completing 160km on a horse and overcoming all of the hundreds of challenges that you face throughout that ride? Can you imagine the bond between horse and rider after enduring and pushing through 160km together? Let your imagination motivate you to work towards this amazing achievement and create a memory that will stay with you forever.
One horse, three days, 200km in harsh conditions on tough terrain. YOU CAN DO IT!! Set the goal, work towards it and stick to the set goal. A ride that you will remember forever. Tried it already, but failed to complete? TRY AGAIN! Never forget the name of the sport that you chose to partake in!
Go for it, do it as many times as it takes to complete! After the first successful Fauresmith, you may either tick this ride off on your bucket list and treasure the memory of South Africa's toughest ride, or set the next goal to complete it at a faster pace. An amazing experience that every endurance riding enthusiast should finish!
This ride is usually hosted in July each year, at the Fauresmith showground in the Freestate. Fauresmith 200 2017 will be on 4, 5 and 6 July 2017.
You, your partner moving 120km over billions of sand particles in Walvis Bay, Namibia... This is a definite bucket list ride not only for every endurance rider in Africa, but also for riders competing on other continents. A unique experience like no other. Challenging conditions over rough terrain, but satisfaction guaranteed on completion! This ride is hosted on 30 August this year and with some careful, strategic planning and preparations, you still have enough time to make it happen in 2017! Go for it! Who knows, maybe next year you and your equine partner are considered to represent the South African team!
Now this is pushing it to the limits... One You, 8 days, and 8 to 16 horses, 1000, yup...correct, one-thousand kilometers! Make sure you have a super comfy saddle for this one! Every loop, a new, fresh horse - have some superglue readily available too, you might get tired after the third loop each day, but your fresh horse sure as hell won't share that feeling! This one-of-a-kind-endurance-on-a-different-level-ride is hosted in Fauresmith, however, not in the coldest part of the year - luckily, or not? Either way, this I can imagine is beyond a challenge - this will test you on all levels, mentally, emotionally and physically. Already thinking you would never be able to do this? YOU CAN DO ANYTHING THAT YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO! What an inspiring story and lesson about endurance it would be if you could share your SMEX1000 experience to your grandkids, one day? A ride no one would regret - it will teach you how strong you really are. We are blessed to have the opportunity of this spectacular event in our very own country - shut your eyes and grab the opportunity with both hands and just go for it!
So there you have it - a few big ones that I'm sure you already heard of. And on completion of all of these there certainly are more when you want to start looking at traveling abroad to experience what else is out there. You're half way there already... you might just go all out and get a taste of the more exciting stuff. It is done every year, by hundreds of riders and horses, why can you and your equine partner not do it? Where there's a will, there's a way! I urge you to look at the bucket list rides and choose at least one for yourself at a realistic time of your horse's career and to push through until completed.
Well, I will end off by saying that I hope you enjoyed this blog post and the moment I have thoughts anything interesting or possibly helpful that I can share with you, I will publish my next blog post. (Hopefully not almost a year after this post, like previously!)
Please feel free to comment or add any rides that you would consider bucket list-worthy! I would love to hear from you.